The Baltimore Orioles had the best defense in Major League Baseball last year, and they continued to hold that distinction entering the game last night against the Boston Red Sox. In the end, it was the lackluster defense of the Orioles who made some key errors which enabled the Red Sox to come back from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Things seemed to be going the way of the Orioles early in the game as they put up three runs in the first inning on Nelson Cruz home run to left field, an RBI single by Matt Wieters, an a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy. Baltimore added single runs in the 5th and 6th innings to give starter Ubaldo Jiminez a commanding lead going into the bottom of the 6th. Jiminez was well on his way to earning his first victory as a member of the Orioles and to improve his record against Boston. However, in the bottom of the 6th he gave up a single to David Ortiz, a walk to Mike Napoli, and a three-run blast to Johnny Gomes to bring the Red Sox into the game.
Zach Britton came in to hold the 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 7th inning. Thus far into the season, Britton had been "lights out," but on this night the southpaw gave up four hits and left the mound with the score tied 5-5. At one point, it appeared that Britton and the Orioles would get out of the jam. With Holt on first base, Grady Sizemore grounded to Britton to set up what might have been a double play. However, when Ryan Flaherty caught the throw from Britton at second base he dropped the ball while attempting to transfer the ball from the glove to his hand. This turned out to be the error that changed the fate of this game. Britton then gave up singles to Pedroia and Ortiz and the game was tied.
In the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded, Mike Carp hit a line drive to left fielder David Lough who threw errantly to home plate. The ball bounced around in pinball machine style and Dustin Pedroia slid into home plate to give Boston the dramatic victory.
Although the season is still young, the Orioles fall to 8-9 overall and 2-4 against Boston on the year. One cannot lay too much blame on Zach Britton whose appearance tonight was uncharacteristic of what he has done this far into the campaign. The true test will come on Patriots Day when the Orioles take on the Red Sox in the final game of a four-game series and will see if they can quickly bounce back from a tough loss.
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